The first fully car park entry system was introduced in 1974 in Westgate car park in Oxford. The intervening 50 years has seen a massive evolution, now most car parks across the world operate entry & exit without any human intervention.

There are different kinds of car park entry systems available currently, and more are constantly being added, with the acceleration of technology. How do you know which type of automated access system to use for your parking lot? Let’s explore the most well-used car park entry systems: 

Ticket or card dispenser / reader

At the entry point, the machine generates a ticket or card with the press of a button. Record of the vehicle’s time of entry may be done via a visible timestamp, QR code or barcode, or digitally stored via the card’s magnetic strip. 

At the exit, the barrier will open when the user inserts a card into a machine or a sensor scans the ticket. 

Where to use: A ticket / card dispenser system works best for commercial parking operations, such as at the mall, airport or city centers, where anyone can use the car park with a corresponding parking fee. 

RFID sensors

An RFID card, sticker or key fob is scanned at the entrance to open the barrier gates. The unique ID contained in each RFID tool helps identify the user and monitors his in’s and out’s in the car park. 

This is a contactless and convenient option that requires just a few quick seconds to activate access. 

However, sharing or loss of RFID cards or key fobs can post security problems for the property. Tech crimes related to the copying of the unique codes inside the cards or fobs are also becoming more prevalent in recent years.  

Where to use: An RFID entry system is usually adapted in car parks where there are permitted regular users, such as office, residential or membership clubs car parks. 

To avoid abuse, the parking lot operator should establish clear rules regarding usage of the cards or fobs- Can the assigned user pass on his access key, in case he will not be parking there during the day? Is there a way to monitor if another vehicle entered using the same card, when the previous user has not yet exited the parking lot? 

Note that due to security risks many companies are moving away from RFID systems in favour of more secure software based systems like

PIN code reader

Users gain access to the parking lot when they enter a passcode in a pin pad reader at the entry point. 

Though cost-efficient, this is not a very popular option among car park operators due to several issues: it is easy to share the passcode to others; users may tend to forget the passcode, especially if it is changed often; and gaining access may take longer due to the act of entering a 4 or 6-digit pin code, leading to bottlenecks during peak hours.

Where to use: They can work in car parks where there are specific users, such as those in offices, residential properties or membership clubs. 

Parking lots which use an online parking reservation system can also use the PIN code reader, wherein the passcode for the day is given to individuals with confirmed reservations. 

License plate recognition (LPR) camera

This can be used alone or integrated with another entry system to provide quick multi-factor authentication. LPR cameras can address some of the issues associated with the passing of key cards, fobs or PIN code between users and catch the unauthorized duplication of RFID codes. 

With the use of an LPR camera, quick access can be given to vehicles bearing a license plate that has been registered in the system. However, accuracy of the system can be affected by external conditions such as rain, snow, fog, the glare of the sun, or the poor condition of the vehicle’s license plate, like when the characters are faded or covered by mud or dirt.

Where to use: LPR cameras can be used in all kinds of parking lot operations. Originally designed as a law enforcement tool to track down stolen vehicles, they can keep your parking lot safe, by eliminating unauthorized usage and keeping a record of all vehicles that accessed your facility. 

Mobile phone based access system

Mobile phones are quickly becoming our most versatile tool in automating everything we need in our day-to-day lives, from making payments, making reservations and now, even unlocking access to car parks or other facilities. 

The use of mobile phones is a contactless and convenient option, especially since we know that people usually have their smartphones with them at all times- so this limits issues with car park access getting into the wrong hands, or being abused by extending usage to several users. 

Using a system like, allows companies to digitize entry and exit while access all the benefits thar come with a parking management system.

Where to use: Initially, mobile phone based access systems can be used in car parks where there are permitted regular users, such as the office parking lot, residential complexes or membership clubs. 

However, as more operators are starting to go fully digital with the use of an online parking reservation system wherein a QR code or unique ID is sent to the mobile phone once reservation is confirmed, this can be adapted more widely in the following years. 

Parking management software

There are different types of parking management software, specializing in specific kinds of operations- employee parking, revenue-generating commercial parking, shared use residential parking, reservation-based parking, etc. 

Software can be used by itself or integrated with the other types of access tools such as parking gates, and the other kinds of automated entry system discussed above. Data from the software serves as your control center on who are the permitted users of the parking lot, and monitors slots availability in real-time too., the leading employee parking software, goes further by its digital entry and exit features, allowing the mobile app to re-assign available slots and update the permitted users list immediately to maximize usage. 

For those who are looking into growing their car park revenues, parking management apps such as Parkpnp, ParkJockey, and SpotHero, can help operators reach more motorists and maximize space usage. 

Trusted by the world’s biggest companies to manage employee parking

Parking lot management software provides comprehensive data and reporting, including monitoring of violations. 

Building an automated parking system that can run with very minimal human intervention is only possible with the use of a strong parking management software that is aligned to the type of car park that you are operating.

Where to use: Software can and should be used in any kind of car park operations, as their specialized algorithm can help you control entry and access to your facility quickly and conveniently. Check out our definitive guide on the different kinds of parking management software that are currently available on the market. 

As of June 2021, there were 39.2 million licensed vehicles in the UK, a 2.2% increase versus June 2020. The increase in licensed vehicles is not just evident in European countries- it is a global phenomenon that comes with the growth in world population. 

With more vehicles on the road, this means that car parks, especially in thriving commercial and residential areas, are busier than ever. Fortunately, the correct combination of technology can help you solve your parking lot management needs. has helped top companies answer their employee parking management questions. Check out some real-life examples on how companies like Colliers International, Version 1 & Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt solved their parking problems with the latest smart parking technology.

Schedule a demo now and see how can help solve your parking problems with the click of a button! 

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